CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 11 . . . . February 3, 2006
No Presents Please is from the series “Zen Tails” in which a classic philosophical story has been adapted to picture book format with a cast of animal characters. Each of the stories is intended to teach an ideal, and each also contains the original Zen tale. The animals are divided into three groups - the enlightened ones or teachers, those on the path or students, and those who have forgotten the way or the fools.
A major problem with the book is that the presentation and the content appear to be for two different age levels. The picture book format and the brightly coloured anthropomorphic characters would appeal to preschoolers, but the content requires a much higher level of reasoning and thinking skills to understand how moral ideas underlie personal choices and actions. Even adults would have difficulty with the idea of remaining calm in the face of an abusive person.
This is the kind of book which could find an audience in alternative bookstores. The aim is well intentioned, and some families who want to incorporate ideas about spiritual practices and philosophies into their lives may find it useful.
Recommended with reservations.
Lorraine Douglas is a retired librarian who worked in children’s and youth services for over 25 years at the Winnipeg Public Library. She now lives in Sidney, BC, and is an artist and writer.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.